So you're overweight. Well, so maybe you're more than just a little overweight.
According to the NIH, if your BMI is between 25-29 you are overweight. If it is above 30, you are OBESE.
Maybe you've been dealing with obesity all of your life or maybe you gained weight with a pregnancy (or two) that you could never take off.
Perhaps, you hit a particular age and suddenly you could no longer eat whatever you wanted and not gain weight. On the contrary, now every bite you take seems to go straight to your hips or your thighs or your love handles.
Whatever led you to become obese, it is important to take action to prevent the complications that can occur from obesity. Some of the most common ones are high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, depression, arthritis, infertility, and even some forms of cancer.
Ideally, it would be great if everyone could exercise for at least an hour daily, eat a well balanced, healthy diet and lose weight.
A great example of this is the popular television show, "The Biggest Loser", which features contestants who exercise for 6-8 hours daily, have a dietician supervising their diet, and a personal trainer overseeing their exercise to ensure results. Even with this aggressive approach, some people are still not able to lose significant weight and have a difficult time achieving long term success.
Honestly, how realistic is this approach? Most people have to work, take care of their kids, etc. What would really be ideal is to prevent obesity in the first place, but since it is now an epidemic, we need an appropriate response. This means we need insurance plans and employers to provide:
- Covered benefits for patients to see registered dieticians (currently most plans only cover this if a patient already has diabetes or high blood pressure)
- Medications that could possibly assist in weight loss
- Counseling by a licensed therapist/psychologist to address eating disorders, underlying depression
- Discounted rates to local exercise facilities
For those of you who have struggled with obesity, tried multiple diets and failed, have complications related to obesity (some of which are likely to shorten your life expectancy if not addressed), or perhaps have a medical condition that limits your ability to participate in physical exercise, bariatric surgery or weight loss surgery may be the answer for you.
There are currently three main types of weight loss surgery: laparoscopic adjustable band, laparoscopic gastric bypass, and laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.
The decision to have weight loss surgery is not one to rush into. It is important to discuss this approach with your primary care physician.
Perhaps there are options that you haven't considered that your doctor can recommend.
After you and your doctor have decided this is potentially a good option for you, it is important to find out what your insurance benefits are as they relate to bariatric surgery. Some plans cover the surgery with little or no obstacles, while others require a supervised diet and exercise program for a period of 3-12 months (plans vary), and still other plans completely exclude all of the bariatric surgeries.
The last step I recommend is that you talk about your decision with your closest family and friends. It is important that those closest to you be supportive of your decision, nevertheless, it is ultimately your decision to make. The bariatric surgeon you choose should ideally be one that is skilled at performing all three of the bariatric surgeries so that he or she can provide a good overview of each surgery and work with you to determine the one that best suits your lifestyle and desired outcome.
Life is too short. Your obesity may be genetic, it may be a result of a medical condition, or it may simply be due to your lifestyle (working hard, eating poorly, and not exercising) but whatever the case may be the fact is that doing nothing is not the answer. Talk to your primary care physician today about your obesity. It's never too early nor too late to make a difference in your quality of life.
If you would like to learn more about medical weight loss or weight loss surgery, please contact the Bariatric Medical Institute of Texas at 210-615-8500 or bmioftexas.com.
Source: Dr. Jennifer Seger, BMI of Texas